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The Lifespan of Roofing Tiles & Slates


30th January 2018

Whether you're purchasing a new property or considering re-tiling the roof of your current home, you need to be aware of the lifespan of existing and new tiles. As industry experts, we have put together a list of the most common questions we hear from our customers. Read on for more information about tiles and when to consider replacing them.

How Long Do Tile Roofs Last?

There are a number of different factors that come into play when assessing the lifespan of roof tiles. You would expect any well-tiled roof to last anywhere up to 60 years. Of course, this depends on how well maintained it has been during that time. This longevity is one of the main advantages of tiled roofs and, depending on the immediate environment in the local area, a tiled roof can last beyond the expected 50-60 year average.

 A Well-Maintained Tile Roof - Roof Stores
A Well-Maintained Tile Roof

While weather conditions will play a big part in testing the durability of roof tiles, the underlay will often need replacing every 30-40 years in order to maintain the integrity of the roof system. It is also important to keep an eye on any small repairs that are required. This ensures issues are dealt with quickly so they do not develop into larger issues.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Clay Roof?

Clay roofs have maintained their popularity largely because of their aesthetic appeal and durability. Most tile manufacturers will offer a guarantee of 30 years, but according to the Building Research Establishment (BRE), clay tiles should last for a minimum of 60 years. The lifespan of roof tiles can be extended depending on where you live and how well maintained they are.

If the material is exposed to sustained periods of severe weather it is more likely to require repairs at some stage. In areas where the environment is less hostile, clay tiles will be able to withstand typical weather seasons without issue. Weather is something beyond anyone’s control and adverse weather conditions will always test the durability of roof tiles over a long period of time.

How Long Do Concrete Roof Tiles Last?

Similar to clay roofs, the life expectancy of roof tiles made from concrete should be a minimum of 60 years. The underlay will have a shorter lifespan which typically lasts for a 40 year period. Of course, this is based on average conditions. There are a number of factors that could contribute to the lifespan of concrete roof tiles.

Forticrete Gemini Concrete Tile - Roof Stores
Forticrete Gemini Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles are comprised of cement, sand and water along with other smaller elements added to the mixture depending on the manufacturer. This enables concrete tiles to be more durable than other types. They are likely to withstand sustained periods of severe weather conditions.

How Can You Maintain Tile Roofs To Last Longer?

Monitor the condition of your roof once or twice annually from ground level using the naked eye, binoculars or a secure ladder if required. If you spot a broken or cracked tile it is important to get this attended to quickly. If not, it will create further problems elsewhere on the roof. Hiring a professional is the best course of action in this instance.

Using a pressure washer is the best way to clean both clay and concrete tile roofs. A combination of warm water and mild detergent will be sufficient to remove any algae or mould may develop. The water should be aimed from the highest peak of the roof at a distance of approximately 3-4 feet from the area you are cleaning. Ensure that you keep it in the direction of the drainage system. If you aim the hose any closer to the tiles, the pressure risks cracks and damage that will require replacement.


Sandtoft Clay 20/20 Interlock Plain LH Tile & Half (Verge)

Sandtoft Clay 20/20 Interlock Plain LH Tile & Half (Verge)

Sandtoft 20/20 Interlock Tile & Half, LeftHand. Sold in a variety of colours. Available for delivery across the UK. Buy online now.
Buy online now

What Reduces the Life Expectancy of Roof Tiles?

These are the most common factors that reduce the life expectancy roof tiles:

  • Roof colour: The darker the colour of the roof, the more it absorbs the heat, which in turn shortens the lifespan of the tile. This also applies to the orientation of the roof. If facing south, it will gain more exposure to sunlight which can also have an effect over time.
  • Roof slope angle: The angle of the roof of your property will test the durability of roof tiles, with higher pitch roofs tending to last longer.
  • Walking on the roof: Roof tiles are easily cracked if not walked on carefully, which is why you should seek professional advice before doing so.
  • Poor installation: Incorrect installation of a tiled roof will usually lead to repairs and replacements sooner rather than later. Sometimes it can be the fault of the manufacturer, but on most occasions, the contractor will be at fault. Ensuring you secure the services of a reputable company will help to avoid this problem.
  • Loft ventilation: Lack of ventilation or no ventilation in your loft space can affect the lifespan of roof tiles.
  • Hostile environment: A well installed tiled roof will be able to withstand the ‘average’ amount of wind, sun, rain, snow and hail throughout the course of the year. Harsh winters and summers, along with large temperature swings in short time periods will test the durability of roof tiles.

How Long Do Slate Roofs Last?

Most people who opt for natural slate roof tiles do so for the beautiful finish it adds to the property. The added bonus that slate provides is a longevity that most other roof materials cannot compete with. A lifespan of 80-100 years is typical for slate roofing, although this can last longer if maintained well after installation.

SIGA 24 Slate Roof - Roof Stores
SIGA 24 Slate Roof

For fibre cement roof slates, the life expectancy is a little shorter at around 50-60 years. This can vary depending on the manufacturer. While man-made slates are typically cheaper and easier to install, they only tend to last for around 20 years. Where natural materials can often outlast the building itself, man-made slate may have to be replaced up to three times over the course of the property’s lifetime.

Material Type Life Expectancy
Clay 60-year minimum
Concrete 60-year minimum
Natural Slate 80-100 years minimum
Fibre Cement Slate / Man Made Slate 50-60 years minimum



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